After going down to the Waratahs and Brumbies, because of slow starts, they blitzed the Rebels in the first half last week and walked away with a 32-7 triumph that saw them move off the foot of the table. The Force scored four tries in the opening 27 minutes to beat the visitors from Melbourne.
McCalman said his side’s goal to dominate from the outset had not changed. “The focus is on the first 20 minutes; really starting well, playing as a 15, knowing your role and how they help out the rest of the team on the field,” he said in an interview on the Force website.
“While it’s 15 who start, the value we got from our bench last week is something that was also very important in the win and it will be this week as well.”
The Highlanders are coming off their bye and have an even ledger at one win and a loss this season.
Both their games have been against New Zealand franchises – with their win coming against the Blues and their loss in a tight affair with reigning back-to-back champions, the Chiefs. McCalman, who has been one of the stand out players for the Force in their first three matches, says they will need to be prepared for the physical Highlanders outfit.
“They are a team that are looking to take it to us early on in the game – we are trying to do the same so it should be a great battle,” he said. “After losing our first two games and winning the third, we can go two from the first four and that is certainly a big step in setting up our season.
“We were not happy with our first two games but we were happy with our last game.”
2013: Force won 19-18, Perth
2011: Force won 21-14, Dunedin
2010: Force won 41-27, Queenstown
2009: Force won 33-28, Perth
2008: Force won 36-28, Queenstown
2007: Highlanders won 8-7, Perth
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Kurt Baker, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 Shane Christie, 6 John Hardie, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Jarrad Hoeata, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Ged Robinson, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Craig Millar, 19 Josh Bekhuis, 20 Elliot Dixon, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Hayden Parker, 23 Phil Burleigh.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Adam Coleman ,20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Marcel Brache.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand), Ben O’Keefe (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)